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Professor González of C&I department using animated cartoons to improve geometry instruction

by Sharita Forrest / Oct 10, 2014

In a unique research project funded by the National Science Foundation, Professor Gloriana González of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction is developing animated cartoons to help geometry instructors become better teachers.

A group of high school teachers from high-need schools will use the cartoons to learn strategies for recognizing students’ prior knowledge and building upon it in mathematics instruction.

González’s team created two animated stories about teaching concepts related to perpendicular bisectors; two additional stories about teaching dilations are in production. Each story includes several vignettes with alternative scenarios.

In order to make the cartoons as realistic as possible, the team conducted focus groups with high school geometry students.

“We wanted to make the cartoon animations realistic, in the sense of how they portray students and what could happen in a classroom,” González said. “We tried to look at problems that could trigger these different types of prior knowledge and show ways that a teacher could trigger that knowledge, too.

“We realized that a lot of the ways in which students solved the problems were not methods we had anticipated. It confirmed our hypothesis that students bring contextual information that shapes the way they approach mathematics problems,” González said.

Read more in the Illinois News Bureau article by Sharita Forrest.